Ethel Lee

Singing is a passion for Ethel. She has loved to sing for as long as she can remember. Born in Evergreen, Alabama as the oldest daughter of four children to Reverend W.J. Sims and Helen Sims, she graduated from A. & M. University in Huntsville, Alabama. Like many performers she started singing in church as a child, and was a member of the choir in both high school and college.

Ethel was the first female and first African American police officer to be hired on the West Springfield Police force in West Springfield, MA. In 2003 after serving 28 years on the force she retired, and although she was offered two jobs afterwards, instead she welcomed the opportunity to focus solely on her singing career.

There were three performers that influenced Ethel's singing career as a teenager. Number one on the list was the incredible Nancy Wilson with Nat King Cole and Johnny Mathis as close seconds. Over the years other influences were added to the list and include Marlena Shaw, Carmen McRae, Earnestine Anderson, Gloria Lynn, Shirley Horn, Esther Phillips, Dinah Washington, Ella Fitzgerald, Della Reese, Mary Stallings, Betty Carter, Natalie Cole, Sarah Vaughn, Bobby Bland, B.B. King, Lou Rawls, Joe Williams, Luther Vandross, Victor Fields, Johnny Hartman, and Will Downing.

Ethel started singing professionally with keyboard player, J.R. Frederick from West Springfield, MA. J.R. asked Ethel to work with him after hearing her at a West Springfield fund raiser talent show. They worked together in Chicopee, MA at the former Angelos restaurant. Ethel is grateful for her earliest singing opportunities working with J.R. and, especially the long term singing opportunities with The Eric Bascom Quintet, and Richie Mitnick & Rhapsody, formally The Sounds of Music Singers. Working with them was instrumental in helping to give me the experience I needed to become a better entertainer.

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